Posts Tagged ‘Midland Business Alliance’

Lean Process: A Workforce Shortage Solution

Guest blog by Hali Motely, MMTC Project Manager

Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center’s Pete Schmidt understands how challenging this year has been. One recurring theme facing many companies large and small is how to find people to fill open positions within their organization.

If everyone is looking to hire new employees, it becomes very difficult to find just the right person to fulfill your needs. This competition strains resources, including time and money.

What if there were a way to reduce the number of new hires needed? Trying to find four new hires instead of 20 would be an easier task in today’s competitive market. What is a new solution many hiring managers are missing? Go Lean!

“Our only security is our ability to change.” – John Lilly

Lean Manufacturing is founded on operational processes that maximize value while minimizing waste. The basic concepts of Lean Manufacturing can easily be applied to non-manufacturing environments to procure efficiencies and increase productivity without additional human capital but with an improved, streamlined process.  For non-manufacturing small businesses, Lean Strategies require fewer resources and maximize the current workforce to increase customer value. Lean identifies the value-added tasks to achieve the goal and eliminates tasks that do not.

Here are 12 Lean tips to reduce waste and free up valuable time for short-staffed businesses.

Re-evaluate, reduce reports, and/or eliminate reports that do not bring value and/or are not read by recipients:

  • Only include essential team members on emails. Eliminate “you’re welcome” replies.
  • Eliminate extra, “just-in-case” materials
  • Streamline documentation and data captures on one document and eliminate entering repetitive information on multiple documents
  • Establish and identify a defined place for all items, both physically and electronically
  • Develop and implement a standard work method for all positions, company-wide
  • Evaluate and design floor plans around “like” activities or tasks
  • Only include essential team members in meetings and establish a post-meeting protocol for the flow of information
  • Exchange printed documents for electronic documents when applicable
  • Establish and communicate a company-wide protocol for meeting attendance, start-time, and end-time
  • Establish an internal review/signoff process with timing requirements
  • Implement a communication policy to eliminate delays in receiving information

Need an example of how Lean in action? Here is a success story from Avalon & Tahoe. The company used Lean to retain 100 jobs and increase capacity by 77%.

 “Change nothing and nothing will change.” – Tony Robbins

We all know change can be daunting. Embracing the “because-we’ve-always-done-it-this-way” mindset can prevent you from freeing up valuable time needed to focus on the tasks that truly matter.

Learn more about how to become a Lean Office Champion today to learn about Lean and tools to improve your business’s productivity.

Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center is here to support you on your lean journeys. Reach out to Hali Motley at or 989.964.2884 to learn more or visit for more tips and training.

About The Center

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to compete and grow. Today, we are celebrating a quarte- century of building superhighways of competitive success for our clients, where there were once only slow and lonely dirt roads. Now, we stand ready to face the future with bountiful optimism, focused purpose, strong determination, legions of support staff, and inspired creativity.

Our Mission

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center is an organization dedicated to supporting Michigan manufacturers to work smarter, compete, and prosper.



Expanding During a Pandemic: Q&A with Midland Eye Associates

By Amy DeGeer Roten

Eighty years ago, an optometrist opened his new practice on the Circle in Midland. Four owners and three locations later, Midland Eye Associates has grown into a comprehensive eye-care practice offering vision and medical eye care. Owners Dr. Paul Kimball and Dr. Carl Erickson are dedicated to maintaining and maximizing patient vision with the most comprehensive eye care available. They will remain at the forefront of optometry and use the most advanced technology for diagnosis and treatment. That promise and dedication has generated growth – and prompted their current expansion – which you can see at 217 N. Saginaw Rd.

At the MBA, we know the importance of supporting small businesses. And small business growth is 50 percent of our national GDP. Firms with fewer than 100 employees make up more than 98% of all business in our country and employ nearly half of the U.S. workforce.

To celebrate this growth during such challenging times, here is a quick Q&A with Dr. Erickson.

What was the catalyst for/goals of the expansion?

After I joined the practice in 2016, it became evident that we were running out of space to see patients. We needed to update the site and facilities to support our expanding services. We also want to offer more services in the future.

We purchased two buildings adjacent to our current practice and designed plans to build a new, 7,500 square-foot office. We know Center City business improvements are a focus for the City of Midland and we are proud that our new building supports that.

How many new and retained jobs will this expansion support?

Four to six new jobs and ten retained jobs.

What new services or products do you have?

We’ll continue to provide eye screenings for three-year-old patients at no charge, eye exams, a full-service drop-in optical department, digital photo documentation, and our onsite, state-of-the-art lab.

Our new building will give us the room we need to offer new services, including ortho-k (service for kids to reduce how near-sighted they will be as adults with contact lenses). We also plan to expand medical services for diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and dry eye.

How did your practice and the expansion survive the COVID shutdowns?

Luckily, Midland Eye Associates kept a healthy, rainy-day fund in anticipation of a grand opening for the new facility. However, between that fund and the PPP Loan programs, we remained healthy even though the State Executive Orders closed our practice for two months. Since the shutdowns, things have been busy for us. People are adjusting to life with more time spent on electronic devices, which affects eyesight. They are also dealing with foggy glasses due to facemasks. These two things have created a strong demand for new solutions to COVID-related lifestyle changes.

How did the MBA help your expansion?

The MBA provided helpful direction and contacts to the City of Midland for permitting, introductions to necessary contacts at Consumers Energy, connections to PTAC, and soft skills training information for new employees. You (the MBA) also investigated potential funding that would support our expansion and provided COVID-19 business toolkits, webinars, executive order information. These helped us navigate the pandemic.

Besides COVID and flooding, were there other impactful barriers to expansion?

Luckily, and with the help of the MBA, extraordinary barriers to our expansion have been few to none.

What is the date for the anticipated grand opening of the new building?

Barring no future, unexpected set-backs, we anticipate an April 2021 opening date.

You can learn more about Midland Eye Associates’ offering on their website.

If you have an expansion that you need help with, contact or Tina Lynch at


Steady Construction Trends Indicate Economic Recovery

Q&A with Three Rivers Corporation

By Amy DeGeer Roten

When it comes to the strength of our economy, the construction industry is the candle in the coal mine.

Construction industry data is used by market experts, government agencies, and business leaders to support economic forecasts, market research, and financial decision-making. Construction directly impacts the economy because it creates jobs. It affects the growth or decline of other industries as well, including retail, hospitality, real estate, manufacturing, education, and others.